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2002 OECD Economic Outlook, Volume 2002 Issue 2

image of OECD Economic Outlook, Volume 2002 Issue 2

Twice a year, the OECD Economic Outlook analyses the major trends that will mark the next two years. The present issue covers the outlook to the end of 2004 and examines the economic policies required to foster high and sustainable growth in member countries. Developments in selected major non-OECD economies are also evaluated in detail.

In addition to the themes featured regularly, this issue contains four analytical chapters addressing the following important questions: the deterioration in budgetary positions in most OECD countries, raising the labour force participation of older workers,  the benefits that OECD countries could achieve from undertaking reforms to promote product market competition, and inflation rates in some of the larger, slow-growing economies have not declined sufficiently to offset higher rates elsewhere in the euro area.

English French, German

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France

After picking up sharply at the beginning of the year, GDP growth slowed to 1.6 per cent in the second quarter. Demand was supported by relatively robust personal and government consumption expenditure, while investment spending and stockbuilding remained weak. Growth has lost momentum during the second half of the year as consumer and business confidence weakened markedly. The slowdown appears to have halted the trend rise in core inflation, while the unemployment rate has remained broadly stable at a level close to its structural rate. Looking forward, growth is projected to remain moderate before slower rates of destocking and a pick-up in external demand prompt a recovery, with output increasing by somewhat less than 2 and 3 per cent in each of 2003 and 2004.

In its execution, the 2002 Budget represented a substantial easing of fiscal policy, with almost half of the slippage being structural in nature. The draft budget for 2003 does not include well identified measures to redress these overruns, so that the fiscal situation may deteriorate further if cyclical weakness persists. In order to prevent the overall debt from exceeding 60 per cent of GDP and so as to ensure the future sustainability of public finances, especially in the face of rising pension obligations, substantial budgetary savings will need to be found in the near future.

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